Chelsea return to the comforts of Champions League Group F on Tuesday night, with a point needed to secure first place, Carlo Ancelotti will also want to prove a point and get his team back to winning ways, after what has been an alarming slump in form in recent weeks.
This match is exactly what Chelsea need right now. The Slovak side have lost all four Group games, scoring one and conceding fifteen. Chelsea are unbeaten at home in twenty two group stage matches, scoring forty and conceding seven. This is our chance to get back to those dizzy heights of August, when we were scoring for fun.
I hope Carlo plays our best side for at least sixty minutes, because winning breeds confidence and let’s face it, we need confidence right now! However I do expect Ancelotti to make wholesale changes with a watching brief on Sunday’s trip to St James’ Park. Our team will probably be Hilario, Bosingwa, Bruma, Ivanovic and Van Aanholt at the back, with Essien, Ramires and McEachran in the middle, behind the front three of Kalou, Sturridge and Anelka. A good enough team to beat Group F’s whipping boys.
Tuesday night will see us progress from Group F as stage winners, with a trip to Marseilles to come, and an opportunity to further blood our promising youngsters. Then the Champions League can be put to bed, until February and we can concentrate on defending our Premier League title.
I expect Chelsea to attack Zelina from the first whistle and run up a cricket score. We need to move the ball quickly and play with a tempo that the Slovaks will not be able to live with. Zelina are currently top of their domestic league, by six points but they are out of their ‘league’ on the European stage.
So it’s back to winning ways on Tuesday and another step, to be successfully taken, on the long and winding road to Wembley in May.